People could form the backbone of a new generation of wireless networks to carry the internet to smartphones, according to scientists at Queen's University Belfast.
Using wearable sensors, the human nodes on the network could connect with sensors in smartphones to create high-bandwidth mobile internet networks and relieve pressure on existing systems.
The researchers at Queen's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology are investigating how the small sensors could communicate with nearby handsets to create potentially vast body-to-body networks (BBNs).
"In the past few years, a significant amount of research has been undertaken into antennas and systems designed to share information across the surface of the human body,” said Simon Cotton from ECIT's wireless communications research group.
“But little work has been done to address the next major challenge, which is one of the last frontiers in wireless communication – how that information can be transferred efficiently to an off-body location," he added.
"If the idea takes off, BBNs could also lead to a reduction in the number of base stations needed to service mobile phone users, particularly in areas of high population density.”
The new sensors would interact, providing mobile network connectivity when in range of other devices on the network.
For example, the researchers said if you were with a friend at a gig and wanted to stream the performance to them while they went to the bar, the video would be passed across the handsets of other concert goers at the venue.
Using the BBN, the video wouldn't use part of a user's data allowance or suffer from slow connection jitter.
The work is ongoing, and will focus on antenna and sensor research to see how far signals can be transferred.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk